Current Events

Nuclear War in the Middle East–Soon? reported on December 12:

“U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s administration will offer Israel a ‘nuclear umbrella’ against the threat of a nuclear attack by Iran, a well-placed American source said earlier this week. The source, who is close to the new administration, said the U.S. will declare that an attack on Israel by Tehran would result in a devastating U.S. nuclear response against Iran.

“But America’s nuclear guarantee to Israel could also be interpreted as a sign the U.S. believes Iran will eventually acquire nuclear arms. Secretary of state-designate Hillary Clinton had raised the idea of a nuclear guarantee to Israel during her campaign for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency…

“Granting Israel a nuclear guarantee essentially suggests the U.S. is willing to come to terms with a nuclear Iran. For its part, Israel opposes any such development… ‘What is the significance of such guarantee when it comes from those who hesitated to deal with a non-nuclear Iran?’ asked a senior Israeli security source. ‘What kind of credibility would this [guarantee have] when Iran is nuclear-capable?’

“The same source noted that the fact that there is talk about the possibility of a nuclear Iran undermines efforts to prevent Tehran from acquiring such arms. A senior Bush administration source said that the proposal for an American nuclear umbrella for Israel was ridiculous and lacked credibility. ‘Who will convince the citizen in Kansas that the U.S. needs to get mixed up in a nuclear war because Haifa was bombed? And what is the point of an American response, after Israel’s cities are destroyed in an Iranian nuclear strike?’

“The current debate is taking place in light of the Military Intelligence assessment that Iran has passed beyond the point of no return, and has mastered the technology of uranium enrichment. The decision to proceed toward the development of nuclear arms is now purely a matter for Iran’s leaders to decide.”

On October 10, 2008, the paper had speculated what Iran’s next move might be, stating:

“French agencies are divided over what Iran is likely to do once it has this uranium. One view is that the Iranians will immediately make a nuclear bomb, in order to demonstrate their capability. The other is that Iran will continue enriching uranium without making a bomb – at least until it has enough enriched uranium for several bombs.”

“Now For a World Government”

The Financial Times wrote on December 8:

“I have never believed that there is a secret United Nations plot to take over the US. I have never seen black helicopters hovering in the sky above Montana. But, for the first time in my life, I think the formation of some sort of world government is plausible. A ‘world government’ would involve much more than co-operation between nations. It would be an entity with state-like characteristics, backed by a body of laws.

“The European Union has already set up a continental government for 27 countries, which could be a model. The EU has a supreme court, a currency, thousands of pages of law, a large civil service and the ability to deploy military force. So could the European model go global? There are three reasons for thinking that it might.

“First, it is increasingly clear that the most difficult issues facing national governments are international in nature: there is global warming, a global financial crisis and a ‘global war on terror’.

“Second, it could be done… Geoffrey Blainey, an eminent Australian historian, has written: ‘For the first time in human history, world government of some sort is now possible.’ Mr Blainey foresees an attempt to form a world government at some point in the next two centuries, which is an unusually long time horizon for the average newspaper column.

“But – the third point – a change in the political atmosphere suggests that ‘global governance’ could come much sooner than that. The financial crisis and climate change are pushing national governments towards global solutions, even in countries such as China and the US that are traditionally fierce guardians of national sovereignty.

“… it seems, everything is in place. For the first time… there is an argument, an opportunity and a means to make serious steps towards a world government…”

World government, in one form or another, will come. First, man will attempt to create it (Revelation 13:3-9; 17:1-2; 18:3), but his temporary success will end in war and total disaster, as well as terrible worldwide destruction (Matthew 24:21-22). The Bible does say, however, that Jesus Christ will intervene and set up a peaceful world government which will never be destroyed–and of His government and peace there will be no end (Isaiah 9:6-7).

Growing Fault Lines Between Europe and USA

On December 9, the Asia Times Online published a highly controversial article–in fact, much of what was written must be rejected as propaganda. However, the following comments are worth quoting:

“North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ministers in Brussels have decided to ignore the wishes of the United States and delay the admission of Georgia and the Ukraine, in effect indefinitely, in what the George W Bush administration is sheepishly trying to claim is a positive ‘compromise’. The decision follows the alarm which peaked among European Union member states last August over the prospect of having to go to war with Russia…

“The decision deepens growing fault lines across the Atlantic, and next year will be clearly more turbulent even than 2008 in terms of global geopolitics. The Brussels decision is even more remarkable if taken as indication of Washington’s diminishing power over European NATO members… Washington has undergone a stunning setback in its agenda of encircling Russia with NATO. Despite the fact that president-elect Obama retained Bush Administration Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and named a person to be Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who has strongly supported bringing Georgia and Ukraine into NATO, key European NATO members, led by Germany and France, blocked what must be a unanimous membership decision.”

“War of Words” Between Britain and Germany

Deutsche Welle reported on December 11:

“Angela Merkel may have shrugged off the apparent snub of not being invited to Monday’s mini-summit between Britain and France but it is unlikely that new comments from the British government will be dismissed as easily.

“The simmering war of words between Berlin and Downing Street heated up Thursday as both Merkel and Prime Minister Gordon Brown prepared to fly to Brussels for a crucial EU summit.

“Responding to claims by German finance minister Peer Steinbrueck that Britain’s conversion from economic and financial prudence to heavy state borrowing was… of ‘breathtaking’ proportions, representatives of Brown’s government said that Germany’s ability to respond effectively to the global economic downturn was being hampered by domestic politics…

“Steinbrueck criticized the 2.5 percent cut in Value Added Tax (VAT), to 15 percent, introduced by the British government from December 1 in an outspoken interview with US magazine Newsweek. ‘All this will do is raise Britain’s debt to a level that will take a whole generation to work off,’ Steinbrueck said, echoing criticism leveled at Brown by the Conservative opposition in Britain…

“Speculation of a rift increased this week after Merkel — in charge of Europe’s biggest economy — was left out of the London summit on Monday involving Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso.”

Welt On Line wrote on December 11:

“German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck has criticised countries for rushing through what he called crass and untested economic rescue packages at a ‘breathtaking and depressing’ pace. Steinbrueck particularly singled out British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, accusing him of switching to economic policies that would saddle a generation with debt…”

Owner of Los Angeles Times and KTLA Channel 5 Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

The Los Angeles Times reported on December 9:

“Tribune Co., the owner of the Los Angeles Times, KTLA Channel 5 and dozens of other daily newspapers and television stations across the country, filed Monday for bankruptcy protection from creditors, in the latest indication of deteriorating economics for the news business…

“In recent weeks, the McClatchy newspaper chain put its Miami Herald up for sale, the Christian Science Monitor said it would abandon daily print publication in favor of Web operation, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Minneapolis Star-Tribune have flirted with or entered default, and the New York Times said it would mortgage its headquarters skyscraper in midtown Manhattan to help cover operating costs.”

Politics at Its Worst

The Chicago Tribune wrote on December 9:

“Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested by FBI agents [but later released on bail] on federal corruption charges Tuesday morning… In one charge related to the appointment of a senator to replace Barack Obama, prosecutors allege that Blagojevich sought appointment for himself as secretary of Health and Human Services in the new Obama administration, or a lucrative job with a union, in exchange for appointing a union-preferred candidate.

“Another charge alleges Blagojevich and Harris conspired to demand the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members responsible for editorials critical of him in exchange for state help with the sale of Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs baseball stadium owned by Tribune Co. Blagojevich and Harris, along with others, obtained and sought to gain financial benefits for the governor, members of his family and his campaign fund in exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions, state jobs and state contracts, according to the charges.

“‘The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering,’ U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement…”

Corruption in US Politics–Nothing New

USA Today reported on December 11:

“Its largest city is legendary for machine-style politics and its elected leaders have been under investigation for years, but by one measure, Illinois is not even close to the nation’s most-corrupt state…

“On a per-capita basis… Illinois ranks 18th for the number of public corruption convictions the federal government has won from 1998 through 2007…

“Louisiana, Alaska and North Dakota all fared worse than the Land of Lincoln… The analysis does not include corruption cases handled by state law enforcement and it considers only convictions. Corruption may run more rampant in some states but go undetected…

“New York… is ranked just after Illinois for corruption convictions…”

Did Barack Obama Know?

ABC News wrote on December 9:

“‘Obviously like the rest of the people of Illinois I am saddened and sobered by the news that came out of the US attorney’s office today,’ said President-elect Obama this afternoon in Chicago, speaking of the criminal complaint against Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich for corruption… Asked what contact he’d had with the governor’s office about his replacement in the Senate, President-elect Obama today said ‘I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening.’

“But on November 23, 2008, his senior adviser David Axelrod appeared on Fox News Chicago and said something quite different. While insisting that the President-elect had not expressed a favorite to replace him, and his inclination was to avoid being a ‘kingmaker,’ Axelrod said, ‘I know he’s talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them.’…

“Axelrod this evening issued a statement saying, ‘I was mistaken when I told an interviewer last month that the President-elect has spoken directly to Governor Blagojevich about the Senate vacancy. They did not then or at any time discuss the subject.’

“There are no allegations that President-elect Obama or anyone close to him had anything to do with any of the crimes Gov. Blagojevich is accused of having committed…

“But there remain questions about how Blagojevich knew that Mr. Obama was not willing to give him anything in exchange for the Senate seat — with whom was Blagojevich speaking? Did that person report the governor to the authorities? And, it should be pointed out, Mr. Obama has a relationship with Mr. Blagojevich, having not only endorsed Blagojevich in 2002 and 2006, but having served as a top adviser to the Illinois governor in his first 2002 run for the state house…”

Consequences of Political Scandal in Illinois Widen

The Los Angeles Times wrote on December 11:

“Barack Obama and federal lawmakers maneuvered Wednesday to force Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich to step down after his arrest in a payoff scandal and prevent him from naming the president-elect’s successor in the Senate… Majority Leader Harry Reid… and others said the Senate might block any Blagojevich appointee from taking office.

“A leading contender for the seat, Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr…. said Wednesday that he would meet with prosecutors this week to share what he knew about the case. Jackson, who denied wrongdoing, has hired a Chicago lawyer to represent him.

“The congressman… has been widely reported to be the man named in an FBI affidavit as ‘Senate Candidate 5’… In wiretapped conversations, the governor said allies of ‘Senate Candidate 5’ had promised to raise as much as $1 million for him in a ‘pay-to-play’ trade for the appointment, the FBI said…

“Obama called on state lawmakers to ‘put in place a process to select a new senator that will have the trust and confidence of the people of Illinois.’ The Legislature plans to convene Monday to pass a bill calling for a special election to fill Obama’s Senate seat. In theory, Blagojevich could veto the measure, and lawmakers could enact it through an override.”

2008 Nobel Economics Prize Recipient Predicts End of Major U.S. Auto Companies

Welt On Line reported on December 8:

“Paul Krugman, [economics professor at Princeton University and columnist for The New York Times and] winner of the 2008 Nobel economics prize, said on Sunday policy makers would be unable to prevent the global economic crisis from inflicting serious damage… ‘The simple mechanics of producing a rescue for the world economy are very hard. The pace at which things are getting worse is so great that it’s difficult to see how rescue measures can come… Even with the best of understanding it can’t come fast enough to prevent a great deal of damage… I’m very worried what next year will look like.’…

“Krugman also said he doubted the U.S. auto sector would survive in the long run…  ‘It’s…the unwillingness, I believe a correct lack of willingness, to accept the failure of a large industrial sector — even if it’s an industrial sector in decline — in the midst of a very very severe recession. In the end these companies will probably disappear.’…”

Bailouts for the Auto Industry…

Newmax wrote on December 8:

“With congressional Democrats and the Bush administration agreeing in principle during the weekend to drop a few billion on General Motors and Chrysler, all signs point to a government-backed auto industry bailout [and] an unprecedented investment in private industry…

“Ford’s chief executive Alan Mulally earned $22 million in total compensation last year – a year that helped push the company toward oblivion…  Plenty other uniquely American industries are taking it on the chin, and no one is calling for a bailout of those sectors… the high end of the bailout range keeps them [the Big Three] in business for about a year. Then what? Without major changes in their business model, they’ll simply be coming back to Washington with their hands out again.

“… this current ‘bailout’ bears no resemblance to the rescue of Chrysler in 1980. In 1980, Congress passed, and President Carter signed, a law giving a U.S. government guarantee of a private $1.5 billion loan to Chrysler. Not one dollar of taxpayer funds was ever used in the deal…”

… Maybe Not…

The Associated Press reported on December 11:

“A House-passed bill to speed $14 billion in loans to Detroit’s automakers stands on shaky ground in a bailout-weary Congress, undermined by Republican opposition that could derail the emergency aid in the Senate.

“Republicans are challenging lame-duck President George W. Bush on the proposal, arguing that any support for the domestic auto industry should carry significant concessions from autoworkers and creditors and reject tougher environmental rules imposed by House Democrats.

“The House approved the plan late Wednesday on a vote of 237-170. It would infuse money within days into cash-starved General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC. Ford Motor Co., which has said it has enough cash to make it through 2009, would also be eligible for federal aid.

“Supporters cited dire warnings from GM and Chrysler executives, who have said they could run out of cash within weeks, and concerns that a carmaker collapse would erase tens of thousands of jobs and jolt an already bleak economy.

“Democrats and the Bush White House hoped the Senate would vote on the legislation as early as Thursday. But based on concerns raised by GOP senators – and a still-uncertain level of support even among Democrats – they had a lot of work to do.

“A leading Senate Republican opponent said Thursday that he cannot back spending $14 billion of taxpayer money on a plan that would call for a restructuring of the industry, but which fails to detail just how that would be accomplished…

“The measure’s murky outlook reflected the difficulty of approving another federal financial rescue on the heels of the deeply unpopular, $700 billion Wall Street bailout, as the clock ticks down on the current Congress and Bush’s influence is at a low ebb… Opposition wasn’t limited to Republicans… The automakers initially asked Congress for $25 billion, then returned two weeks later to plead for as much as $34 billion…”

Grim Outlook for US Economy

The following facts, as reported in the quoted article below, should serve as a wake-up call for those who didn’t or don’t expect the U.S. economy to face tough times ahead. Even the article’s use of words such as “unexpected” or “more than expected,” in relationship to bad developments within our economy, shows how little our financial experts are in touch with reality.

The Associated Press reported on December 11:

“New claims for jobless benefits rose more than expected last week, exceeding even gloomy expectations for an economy stuck in a recession that seems to be deepening… New jobless claims last week reached their highest level since November 1982, though the labor force has grown by about half since then… Also Thursday, the U.S. trade deficit rose unexpectedly in October as a spreading global recession dampened sales of U.S. products overseas…

“In just the first two months of the budget year that started Oct. 1, the budget deficit totaled $401.6 billion, nearly matching the record gap of $455 billion posted for all of last year… Economists expect the deficit will top $1 trillion in the current budget year, which would be a post-World War II high when measured as a percentage of the economy…

“The Labor Department said last week that employers cut a net total of 533,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate reached 6.7 percent, a 15-year high. The rate would have been higher, except that more than 400,000 Americans gave up looking for a new job and weren’t counted in the labor force.

“Companies have eliminated a net total of 1.9 million jobs this year, and some economists project the total cuts could reach 3 million by the spring of 2010.”

Bleak Outlook for World Economy

The Telegraph wrote on December 9:

“Politicians must prepare themselves for the possibility that global economic growth shrinks for the first time since the Second World War, according to the World Bank. In comments which underline the scale of the international recession, the Washington-based institution said even as things stand growth next year will be the worst since comparable records began in 1970… The warning will be seen as a final blow for those who held out hope that some countries would be insulated from the recession…

“As the recession spreads far beyond the borders of the United States, both rich and poor countries will suffer a slump of unprecedented scale, the Bank said in its latest review of the world’s economic prospects. Global trade, the real engine of wealth generation, will contract for the first time since 1982. “

Cybersecurity One of Most Urgent National Security Problems

DailyTech wrote on December 9:

“A new report issued by the Center for Strategic and International Studies urges President-elect Barack Obama to create a new White House department aimed at protecting U.S. cyber interests from hackers and other foreign agents. ‘America’s failure to protect cyberspace is one of the most urgent national security problems facing the new administration that will take office in January 2009,’ the report states.  Cyber safety is ‘a battle fought mainly in the shadows.  It is a battle we are losing’…

“‘The United States must treat cybersecurity as one of the most important national security challenges it faces,’ according to the report… the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not been able to properly secure U.S. government computers from cyber attacks, and should no longer have the responsibility.  DHS isn’t suited to handle technology issues, as the agency uses ‘archaic’ methods that cannot keep up with new attacks.”

President Bush Confused About the Bible

The New York Times reported on December 8:

“President George W. Bush said his belief that God created the world is not incompatible with scientific proof of evolution… ‘I think you can have both… I think that God created the earth, created the world; I think the creation of the world is so mysterious it requires something as large as an [A]lmighty and I don’t think it’s incompatible with the scientific proof that there is evolution… I happen to believe that evolution doesn’t fully explain the mystery of life.’

“Interviewer Cynthia McFadden asked Bush if the Bible was literally true… ‘Probably not. … No, I’m not a literalist, but I think you can learn a lot from it… the important lesson is “God sent a son”‘… The president also said that he prays to the same God as those with different religious beliefs.”

Tensions Are Mounting Between India and Pakistan

AFP wrote on December 9:

“Pakistan said Tuesday it would not hand over suspects in the Mumbai [formerly Bombay] terror strikes to India and warned that while it wanted peace with its neighbour, it was ready for war if New Delhi decided to attack.

“The remarks came as Indian police on Tuesday released the names of nine suspected gunmen killed in the carnage, reiterating that all of them came from Pakistan.

“Tensions have been mounting between the nuclear-armed neighbours after India said it was keeping all options open following last month’s attacks on its financial capital, where 172 people were killed and more than 300 wounded…

“Indian officials say the hardline Lashkar-e-Taiba group, which is based in Pakistan despite being banned by the government, is behind the bloodshed, and Indian media have suggested there could be Indian strikes on militant camps…

“The minister said India’s demands for the extradition of suspects in the Mumbai attacks were out of the question and that Pakistan, which has arrested 16 people since Saturday, would keep them on home soil…

“India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence from Britain and nearly came to a fourth in 2001 after an attack on the Indian parliament that was blamed on Lashkar-e-Taiba…”

Greece’s Worst Civil Unrest in Decades

Deutsche Welle reported on December 8:

“Rioting and protests over the shooting of a teenager by police continued to spread across Greece Monday, leaving authorities frustrated by their inability to stop the country’s worst civil unrest in decades…

“Hundreds of students, armed with fire bombs and stones, clashed with police and smashed storefronts in the northern port city of Thessaloniki on Monday while gangs of youths attacked police stations and government buildings in Athens. From the northern city of Veria to the central city of Trikala, students battled riot police who retaliated by firing tear gas. On Crete, gangs of high school students threw chairs, wood and rocks at security forces…

“Confrontations between protesters and police also broke out in Berlin, London and Cyprus as youths occupied Greek diplomatic missions… University professors [in Greece] meanwhile began a three-day walkout on Monday and tens of thousands of students refused… to attend classes, in protest.”

Der Spiegel Online described the situation in Greece on December 9 as the “Nightmare before Christmas.”

It added on December 11:

“As Greece entered its sixth day of unrest sparked by the police shooting of a 15-year-old boy, violence spread to other parts of Europe on Thursday. Solidarity protests in cities including Rome, Madrid and Copenhagen turned into skirmishes between demonstrators [mainly left-wing radicals] and police.”

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